A Shelter in Jeopardy

Lynn Washington, 35, cries while holding a candle in protest of the proposed closing of the Neighborhood Service Organization 24-hour walking center during its most needed time. Winter months and evenings.

Serita Adams, a client who suffers from mental illness is encouraged by several NSO counselors to come into the center for crisis intervention after threatening to kill herself. The NSO center is the only that offers 24-hour crisis intervention.

Michael Guy Perry, 36, of Detroit washes and combs his hair in NSO’s two-stall cement bathroom as Walter Stevens, 48, stands in the background. Some clients are addicted to drugs or alcohol and have mental illnesses, while other lack shelter and education, but all bring their problems to the NSO staff in hopes they can solve them.

At 3:45 a.m. NSO’s 13 beds and all its chairs were filled with clients. The NSO serves about 700 homeless people a day, 1000 a day when it’s cold outside. Beds go quickly; others must sleep in chairs.

Client Charles Wilson, 51, rubs a foot he was shot in about a year ago while being robbed. He never had the foot treated. Wilson says he’s been homeless for a year and comes to the 24-hour center for a warm place to rest at night.

Evangelist Cheryl Cohill, of Soul Harvest Ministries in Highland Park prays with Sarita Weathersby (cq) during a special prayer service at the NSO. Many former clients that have been helped by the center come back to offer spiritual and emotional support to current clients. NSO has helped a lot of people in its 25 years.

Two unidentified clients assist James Shegog after he fell. Shegog was intoxicated and could not sit in his chair. The shelter in the only one that allows intoxicated people

NSO client Grant Chapman, 39, of Detroit eats after a prayer service. Church groups come in to provide an opportunity to worship and fellowship. Chapman, homeless for five years says he hopes the center doesn’t close. “There will be a lot of crime and problems if the homeless people don’t have a place to go,” Chapman says.

Midnight supervisor John Harris confronts an unidentified visitor after hearing a glass bottle fall to the ground and finding an empty liquor bottle near his bag early in the morning. The bottle fell on the floor after the drunken client fell asleep in his chair. The staff at the center does not allow liquor or drugs, but is the only center in the city that allows intoxicated inside to sleep it off. Harris gave him a warning saying, “Now you know there’s no liquor allowed in the center.”

Former NSO client and current counselor Charlie Smith talks with former
NSO client Loretta Cole, 43, of Detroit who stops by for a visit. It was 3a.m.. Clients often bring problems to counselors at the 24-hour Center.

Minutes after having a peaceful conversation with a counselor, Loretta Cole, 43, starts an argument with midnight supervisor John Harris because he asks her to sit in a chair. This is common with clients that are suffering from mental illness.

At 4:30 a.m., a client carries his bags and personal belongings while trying not to disturb other clients. The unidentified client was going to look for a job. “The NSO gives us dignitity and a place to stay, without it were homeless and robbing people,” the client added.